City of Pittsburgh

Civil Rights Clinic

The Civil Rights Clinic is a yearlong clinic that offers income-qualified clients legal assistance with civil rights litigation and record expungement. Students participate in weekly seminars that address substantive and procedural law issues, then experience hands-on training in case intake and interviewing, client counseling, fact investigation, case analysis, mediation, negotiation, research, and drafting of complaints and documents.

Duquesne Law students attend monthly meetings at the Pittsburgh Chapter of the NAACP to review discrimination claims and conduct initial client intake meetings on site. This innovative partnership with the organization’s staff and volunteers has resulted in a comprehensive NAACP intake and referral system for civil rights and other legal complaints. Potentially viable complaints are then referred to the Civil Rights Clinic and/or other appropriate sources for assistance.

In a partnership with the Urban League of Pittsburgh, Civil Rights Clinic students also attend a monthly “Pardon Clinic” and teach participants about Pennsylvania expungement law and the pardon process.  Under the direction of supervising attorneys, students provide advice and represent individuals pursuing expungements and pardons.  Students then draft the necessary petitions and motions and file the petitions in the appropriate counties. 

Students also assist individuals with the completion of the complex Pennsylvania Board of Pardons’ clemency application and compete filings with the Board.  After the lengthy Board investigation process, students prepare clients who have been selected for public pardon hearings through mock hearings. 

Clinic News 

Civil Rights Clinic offers expungement workshop with Homewood Children's Village

Law students in the Civil Rights Clinic hosted a free expungement workshop for the public on Saturday, March 25, 2017, 4 - 7 p.m. The event was sponsored by the Homewood Children's Village in partnership with Pennsylvania Representative Ed Gainey. Prof. Tracey McCants Lewis, the clinic's supervising attorney and interim co-director of clinical legal education, lead the program. 

Law professor talks forgiveness during TedxPittsburgh talk

Professor Tracey McCants Lewis explained the work of the Civil Rights Clinic during a recent Tedx Pittsburgh talk. McCants Lewis detailed how Duquesne Law students represent individuals pursuing expungements and pardons through the clinic and discussed why the clients are often blocked from work and housing without this critical legal assistance.

Front page story details law students' work

Earlier this year students in Duquesne Law's Civil Rights Clinic helped to prepare client Carol Ramsey for her appearance before the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons and attended the hearing with her in Harrisburg. The board unanimously recommended approval of Ramsey’s request in January. Now the recommendation is before Gov. Tom Wolf, who can make a decision at any time.

Read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette front-page story of Sunday, March 20, 2016: "Long-sought pardon can open doors for woman to move forward."